Students earn recognition through Red Ribbon Poster Contest

Students earn recognition through Red Ribbon Poster Contest


Four Charles County public middle school students were recently honored by the Charles County Commission for Women through its Red Ribbon Campaign poster contest. The student artists whose designs were selected as overall winners among Charles County entries are:

  • Dayshina Gutrick, sixth grader, General Smallwood Middle School;
  • Kirra Johnson, eighth grader, Piccowaxen Middle School;
  • Mia Terry, sixth grader, Mattawoman Middle School; and
  • Mandy Wang, eighth grader, Milton M. Somers Middle School.

All four students share a passion for art, as each indicated they entered the contest because they enjoy being creative. “My art teacher told me about it, but I also like art. I really enjoy sketching and shading in black and white,” Wang said.

More than 230 middle school students participated in the contest, which focused on the Red Ribbon Week message of “Life is Your Journey, Travel Drug Free.” Red Ribbon Week is highlighted annually in October to help spread drug prevention and awareness.  A committee of Charles County Commission for Women members reviewed all entries and selected the four winners.

Wang said she not only entered the contest because she likes art, but she thought it would be fun to compete with her friends. “My teacher told me there may be one winner per school so I was also motivated to enter because I like to win. Art is a fun hobby for me,” Wang said.

Wang plans to continue taking art classes when she starts high school next year, but thinks she might pursue a career in medicine. “I am thinking of becoming a nurse practitioner. My mom is a nurse practitioner and I look up to her because she likes to help people,” Wang said.

The contest was the first time Johnson entered any of her artwork for an award. She said all of the students in her art class submitted an entry, and she was excited to learn she was chosen as a winner. “My teacher announced it in class… it is an honor when your art is featured. I plan to continue this passion,” Johnson said.

Johnson also plans to take additional art classes in high school and enjoys traditional drawings. While she is unsure of her plans after high school, Johnson said she wants to do something where she can help animals. “Maybe study zoology so I can help animals in need,” she added.

Gutrick said her passion for drawing stems from her dad, who also enjoys art. Gutrick said at first she did not realize that the poster was more than part of a class assignment and was surprised she was named a winner. “I am still a little shocked. I am sure there were a lot of people who participated and I was picked out of all those people,” Gutrick said.

Gutrick’s favorite aspect of art is that an artist can put together whatever comes to mind on paper. She also enjoys learning about 3-D objects and plans to continue studying art in the future.

Terry has a talent for drawing block letters. She entered the contest because she loves art and finds any way to focus on her passion interesting. She has sketchbooks full of art, including rainbows and drawings of food, and likes to use pastels and markers. “My favorite thing to draw is pictures of food. My best piece was of a burger with fries and a drink,” Terry said.

Terry plans to study art when she graduates from high school. Her goal is to be a graphic designer or cartoonist. “I would also like to do voice overs or maybe become an actress,” Terry said.

Each winner received a certificate of award from the Charles County Commission for Women and a chance to have their artwork featured at the local mall, St. Charles Towne Center. Additionally, the students received a gift card to Chick-fil-A. 

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,108 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

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